Your body needs iron to prevent Iron Deficiency Anaemia, and to keep you healthy and energetic. Iron comes from both animal foods such as meat, chicken and fish, and vegetable foods such as legumes, beans and whole grains.
Did you know? The darker the colour of the meat, the more iron in the food? For example, beef liver which is redder than other meats, contains more iron.
Iron absorption in the body The absorption of iron depends on the amount of iron consumed, its food source (animal or vegetable), and the availability of other foods during or after the meal. Iron absorption from a mixed diet is only 18%! Thankfully, the daily requirement of 18mg/day for women takes this into account.
- The difference between animal and vegetable sources: Iron absorption from meat is 4 times greater than from vegetable sources (lentils, beans and spinach); even though the vegetable foods sometimes contain more iron than meat. To increase the absorption of iron from vegetable sources, add a source of Vitamin C to the meal. Vitamin C, found in lemon, orange, kiwi, strawberries, melons, broccoli and peppers, helps the body absorb iron from food. For example, drink a glass of fresh orange juice with your meal
- In addition, eating meat with legumes or grains will boost your body’s absorption of iron. So add a little meat or chicken to your bean stew, spinach dish or mouloukhieh.
- The effect of certain drinks on iron absorption: In Arab culture, it is a habit to drink either coffee or tea just after a meal. But did you know that tea and coffee affect iron absorption? Tea decreases iron absorption by 60% and coffee by 50%. So instead of having them directly after the meal, have them between meals.
The following table shows the content of iron in foods:
|Food||Iron (mg/100g of food)|
|1 Egg (50g)||1 mg|
|Legumes (cooked): lentils, broad beans, white beans…||2-3|
|Whole wheat bread (28g)||1 mg in 1 slice|
Good to know: Nestlé FITNESS® cereals are fortified with iron because of its important role in good health, energy and vitality. Each serving of 30 grams provides you with 25% of your daily requirements.